A quality line-up of Australian distance talent will line up for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain, on March 24, 2018.
Milly Clark (NSW), Sinead Diver (Vic) and Ellie O’Kane (Vic) make up the women’s field while Collis Birmingham (Vic), Brett Robinson (Vic), Harry Summers (Vic), DeJen Gebreselassie (Tas), and Thomas DoCanto (NSW). Australia will be eligible for the men’s and women’s team events.
The IAAF World Half Marathon Championships continue Robinson’s comeback from a stress fracture in his femur. The injury, occurring last March, resulted in a four-month lay-off. The cross-training that became Robinson’s focus while he couldn’t run, now set to work in his favour for the half marathon.
“I’ve had pretty good experiences with them so far,” Robinson said, having won the last two editions of the half marathon at the Melbourne Marathon. “I like road running. A half marathon feels comfortable for the first 10,12, 13km then it gets hard but it’s not like a track race where you’re going really hard from the start you actually feel pretty comfortable for a lot of it.”
The fast Valencia course leads Robinson to believe that a 61minute race is could be on the cards for him in March.
“I’ve run well in the Melbourne half for the last two years and I’ve always wanted to try and run World Half or just run a really fast one,” he said. “Valencia is a really fast course so it’s really killing two birds with one stone.”
It will be Clark’s second time at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, having also represented Australia two years ago in Cardiff, Wales. Clark finished 13th (1:10:48) in a PB in Cardiff in what she described as ‘one of the best trips of her life’, just behind compatriot and teammate Eloise Wellings in 12th.
“It’s exactly what I wanted,” said Clark of the selection for the 2018 event. “I was really glad to get that call.”
Injury troubles late in 2017 mean saw the Rio Olympic marathon representative shift her focus for this year from the Commonwealth Games to the 21.2km event.
“It was always a goal, but it was always a matter of ‘is it Commonwealth Games or the half?’ because you can’t do both” said Clark. “This is exactly what I want to do.”
Athletics Australia head coach Craig Hilliard said that the team will be an interesting group to watch.
“The men have a strong team with a number of athletes who have posted personal best performances over the last six months,” he said. “Across the board it’s a great mix of up and coming marathon aspirants that we’re taking to Valencia.”
Meantime, the Australian team for the 2018 FISU World University Cross Country Championship has also been named with 12 athletes selected.
Bryce Anderson (ACT), Joe Burgess (NSW), Riley Cocks (SA), Ed Goddard (NSW), Ben Kelly (Vic) and Tim Vincent (Qld) make up the men’s team. Paige Campbell (NSW), Laura Rose Donegan (Vic), Lara Hamilton (NSW), Anna Kelly (Vic), Henrietta Lawrence (Vic), and Alexandra Paterson (Vic) have all been given the nod for the women’s team.
The 2018 FISU World University Cross Country Championship takes place in St. Gallen, Switzerland on April 4.